Agriculture featured on Watertown TV
Watertown — Shelly Grosenick grew up on a dairy farm showing dairy cattle and then coaching other young 4-H dairy enthusiasts.
After earning ag-journalism and dairy science degrees, she married a dairy farmer, and together, she and her husband Jim run a 300-cow dairy near Lebanon.
Juggling her duties helping on the farm and caring for the couple’s two little children, she continues to work with 4-H dairy project members and to tell the agriculture story every chance she gets.
She describes herself as a shy person, so when she was invited to produce a television show on the local Watertown TV station, her first reaction was to turn it down.
She told members of the Wisconsin Women for Agriculture recently, “I didn’t think I could do this because I figured I didn’t know anything about TV. Still, I believe it is so important right now to tell our story. If we don’t tell our story, someone else will tell it.”
With her husband’s blessings she decided to take on the challenge.
She sought help from three of her dairy friends who shared her interest in telling the farm story, and they set out to produce shows on a monthly basis.
“The four of us got together and put together a plan, established a website and decided how we’d get the show going,” she said. “We all agreed that we wanted consumers to know about the people and the products they produce on the farm.”
As time went on, her friends found they could not fit it into their schedules, so she was left alone to seek out interesting agricultural enterprises and then produce the shows.
The program, “Bountiful Wisconsin,” was originally created from a middle school student’s suggestion that there should be a television program featuring agriculture. Wisconsin is home to thousands of farms and agribusinesses, making it a perfect setting for bringing this idea to fruition.
Grosenick said in the first year they produced eight shows. The talk-based show features new personalities from behind common foods and services, along with new and interesting topics.
“I’ve learned so much about our state’s agriculture and the little niche markets that I didn’t know,” she said.
Variety of farms featured
The show includes one-on-one interviews, demonstrations and on-location tours.
In the first episode, viewers learned about Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, and watched a chocolate-making demonstration from a candy shop.
Grosenick said she is always thinking about ways to make the topics interesting and looking for unique angles that will capture the viewer’s interest.
When she did a segment at the Schlender farm in Watertown where a young couple milks cows with the help of robots, she asked their 7-year-old son to conduct the tour.
“That made the story so much more interesting to see the dairy farm through the eyes of a 7-year-old,” Grosenick said.
Her personal favorite episode featured pork and beer.
“We found there are some great partnerships in agriculture,” she said.
The feature she titled “beer and bacon” highlighted a pork producer who feeds grains from a local brewery and then markets his pork to be sold at the brewery along with the beer.” The brewer grains give the pork a unique flavor, and the beer and pork complement each other on the menu.
She said the programs are not only educational for viewers, but producing the show also helps reassure her about the bright future agriculture has to offer to young people.
“If you ever question the future of agriculture, look up the young man from Watertown High School who raises bees and sells honey,” she said.
“Bountiful Wisconsin” featured his venture on one episode, not only highlighting the benefits of bees to the agricultural community but also showing that there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs.
"The passion for agriculture is out there,” she said. “We all need to tell the story and share it with everyone we know.”
She said she has been learning about Wisconsin agricultural diversity as well when she learns about businesses that she did not even know existed.
One example was her visit to Sugar River Dairy where a farm family makes and markets their own yogurt.
“It’s unique because they don’t make it in batches and then put it in containers,” she said. “They make their yogurt right in the cup, one cup at a time.”
She plans the shows and then takes the station’s videographer, Jordan Westenberg, with her to do the taping. Back in the studio, she tapes the introduction to each episode.
Giving her time
Grosenick’s position is entirely voluntary. That means at times she needs to take her 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter with her to the studio.
She describes one particularly challenging day when she brought her children, plenty of snacks and things to play with and settled them in the corner of the studio to play.
“Things went fine at first, but then they started coming up on the stage,” she said. “The segment was filmed with the camera aiming above my waist so the viewers could not see my kids at my feet.”
“Bountiful Wisconsin” is on Charter Cable station 985. It is also available via Livestream or on demand online at watertowntv.com.
“This has been one of the most highly downloaded shows in the last year,” Grosenick said.
Those interested can also learn how to get involved and find additional resources on the show’s website, bountifulwisconsin.com. People can also like “Bountiful Wisconsin” on Facebook to see behind-the-scenes photos and interact with the hosts.
Watertown TV is a public access, community-based media service. Programming is created for and by the Watertown community and includes events, sports, interviews, entertainment, how-to, church services and more.